She is something to behold
elegant and bold.
–Georgia, Vance Joy
I love this line from one of Vance Joy’s best songs. I want to be both elegant and bold. I want to be both kind and strong. I recently heard a woman speak to a group of young girls and she encouraged them in self-confidence and self-esteem, and also to be women of power. The girls heard a lot of wonderful things, were built up in many ways, and I was encouraged to see girls being poured into in such a way. But in addition, she spoke a lot of the wage disparity between men and women. She spoke of “reclaiming” the music industry from men, who constantly degrade women through music. She spoke of women taking the place of men in high-ranking jobs. I very quickly grew uncomfortable because it turned from empowering and encouraging girls into a man-hating session. I refuse to build girls up by tearing men down. The speaker was speaking at a conference for girls, which was great, but when push comes to shove, I am as interested in empowering men as I am in empowering women. Because encouraging men helps women, and encouraging women helps men.
Women need to be stood up for, just as anyone needs to be stood up for when they’re being treated unjustly. I have no doubt that women are treated poorly here and in other places around the world. And so women rally and women come together to advocate for themselves. The goal is for women to come together, to realize that we are all in this together, and not to fight and bicker amongst ourselves. This is good. Women are beautifully resilient creatures. But what is the goal of the coming-together?
Yes, men commit injustices against women that should not be tolerated. But the answer is not to unite against men. Women also commit injustices and the fight must always be against injustice, never against men. If women come together for the purpose of being against men, no one is winning. Everyone is weaker when we think men and women are opposing forces. Women need men. Men need women. If feminism insults men and disempowers men from being who they are created to be, feminism is not only hurting men, but also ultimately hurting women themselves.
Feminism is a weird issue. I just looked up the definition in the dictionary (if life were as black-and-white as dictionary definitions it would be a lot more boring but a lot simpler): “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities; organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests.” Cool. If that’s what feminism is, good. But it seems like feminists have turned equality into sameness, and equality and sameness are not the same thing. Sameness makes me uncomfortable.
“It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, or lived like men, or looked like men, for if the two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and the variety of the world, how should we manage with one only! Ought not education to bring out and fortify the differences rather than the similarities? For we have too much likeness as it is.” – Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own
I was created to be a woman. I am most myself and most alive when I live into being a woman. I know what broken femininity is because I live in it every day. I see it in my body, in my mind, in my silly female emotions. Because femininity and masculinity are distinctly different and complement one another, to be more of a whole female, I need men to be men. I am most powerful when I am most feminine. Men living out their masculinity brings out the femininity in me, and that brings out the best of me. Men, we need you. To be all that I am meant to be and want to be, I need you. I need you to be what you were created to be so that I can be what I was created to be, and vice versa. I want to be elegant and bold, kind and strong.
The question in my mind becomes, of course, what do reclaimed and redeemed masculinity and femininity look like? And naturally I’ve thought about that a lot, although I’m not trying to answer that question here. I think they look a LOT of ways and I don’t think there’s one mold for either of them. Bottom line I don’t want to fight against men, because men and women are equally valuable and because ultimately we need one another to be powerful, whole, kind, just, and strong. The fight is not against men.